Control

I’ve been using the Sedona Method technique of emotional releasing for a while now and I’ve found it immensely helpful. It’s the simplest, easiest way I’ve yet come across for releasing negative emotions. What’s especially interesting is that whenever you feel bad, you are urged to trace the emotion back to one of four underlying WANTS: wanting control, wanting approval, wanting security or wanting to be separate.

I’ve found it amazing that just about every negative emotion can be traced to a basic sense of wanting control. It seems to me that at a core, fundamental level, human beings (or more specifically, human egos) are control-freaks. However subtly or overtly this manifests itself, we’re in the business of wanting control just about everything, just about all the time.

I suppose from the moment we’re born we learn that to get our needs met we have to try to control our environment and those around us. When we’re hungry or uncomfortable or have a poopy nappy, we don’t hesitate to make our discomfort known — and the louder the better. This in itself is a basic means of control, because we quickly learn that crying gets us what we need. The art of control is thus learned at a very young age and as we grow up, it continues to develop in an infinite number of ways. Life, and other people, are seen as things that we have to control in order to get our needs met and in order to be happy.

It’s not until we stop and think about it that we realise the countless ways in which we try to control our environment, our lives and other people. Sometimes the ways in which we desire to control things are quite obvious, whereas other times they are so subtle as to be imperceptible. But, make no mistake, it’s going on all the time!

From the moment we wake up in the morning (which is normally controlled with the aid of our alarm clock), we enter each situation in our daily lives with an agenda. We want to do and achieve certain things and we want situations, meetings and transactions to go a certain way, so we invest a great deal of effort to ensure that’s what happens. We want people to treat us a certain way, so we spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to control them and influence how they respond to us.

If we look closely enough, we can see how we try to control virtually aspect of our lives: from our bodies, health, appearance, diet and sleep patterns to our activities, jobs and careers and our relationships, social standing and the opinions of other people. What is the average human life if not an exercise in extreme control-freakery?

Now I suppose you could argue that it’s necessary to try to control such things, otherwise our lives would spiral out of control and implode in a catastrophe of chaos and disorder. That’s the way the ego sees it and that’s how it justifies its pathological need to try and micro-manage the universe.

But I’ve come to see that control is ultimately an illusion.

It’s a fiction the mind gets hooked into, a mode of functioning that underlies every nuance of its operating software. It fails to see that its perpetual attempts to control are akin to a hamster running in a wheel. No matter how much energy and effort it invests in trying to control every aspect of life, it’s not going to get you that far.

Because just how much can we actually control in life? Honestly?

I’d argue that ultimately there’s very little we really have control over. As valiantly as we might try, we can’t control other people – at least not completely, and not all the time. Aside from ensuring we give it the proper fuel, rest and exercise it needs, we don’t control our bodies; our bodies do what they do and they’re inevitably going to get grow old and die. We don’t have much, if any, control over our environment and culture, or the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

And here’s the thing: the more we try to control anything, the more we suffer.

We suffer when we don’t get what we want. And we often suffer just as much when we do get what we want. Perhaps this is because we’ve created so much tension and resistance in ourselves that we’re unable to relax enough to enjoy the fruits of our labours. In any case, the mind is rarely satisfied with what it’s got and is immediately ready to fixate on its next object of conquest. It’s a vicious cycle. The more we control, the more we’re dissatisfied and the more we suffer.

Yet letting go of control is a truly heinous notion to most people. The thought of being out of control is unthinkable and is tantamount to a kind of death (and it is a kind of death in a way; death of the ego!). Yet if we take an honest look at the ways in which we try to control life, the ultimate futility of our efforts, and the way it causes us pain, we might find the courage to adopt a totally radical and quite revolutionary approach: letting go of our control over life.

What I’ve discovered is that the moment I let go of wanting to control anything, I feel free and at peace. I believe letting go of the need to control is one of the greatest keys to freedom and peace of mind. Paradoxically, when I know that I’m not in control of life, I feel at one with life and things just seem to flow; no stress, no worry, no resistance!

Whenever I feel bad, or whenever things have become sticky and messy, it’s usually attributable to trying to impose control on things. This has happened with my physical health. The more I’ve tried to improve my health, the more determined I’ve been to get better and the more regimented I’ve been with my diet, supplements, and so forth, the worse I’ve actually become. I can only assume it’s because the more we struggle with things, the more tension and resistance we create within us. This tends to close us down, cutting us off from the innate flow of life, whereas when we relinquish the need to control, it releases tension and promotes lightness, ease and flow.

I invite everyone to experiment with letting go of their need to control life. If something’s been causing you pain or suffering, it’s a sure sign that instead of trying to exert more control over the situation, you need to do the opposite and practise letting go. It’s so simple yet miraculous in the way it shifts our energy and reconnects us with our innate sense of wellbeing and flow. At the very least, whether the situation changes or not, you’ll experience a deep sense of relief, release and inner peace. But don’t take my word for it – try it for yourself!

When we let go of our attempts to control life, life takes over: and life can do things infinitely better than our precious little egos ever could. It’s as though a deeper intelligence springs into action and gets things back into balance again. When we’re no longer creating obstructions (and our obstructions almost always originate in the mind), things naturally settle themselves and come into harmony. This can be seen in nature. As long as there are no obstructions, a lake remains placid and still, for that is its nature. Our attempts to control creates waves in the water, shattering the calm and stirring up all kinds of muck and debris. Pretty soon the water is choppy and muddy, as a result of our desperation to impose our will. Just letting go is enough to allow the water to naturally balance and settle itself. There’s nothing we need to do. Why not let go of control as much as you possibly can and allow life to flow? You might be amazed at the results.

“Let go of your hold on life and allow life to simply flow around and through you.” John C Parkin

Ahhhhhh. The sense of relief is amazing!

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5 thoughts on “Control”

  1. Thanks for the link. Not entirely sure I get the significance of the wiki article though *scratches head* – definite moment of ignorance!

  2. The linked-to article shows how up against it one is, to attempt to show the largely-unseen to the largely-ignorant of the largely-unseen. It goes back to Plato, and beyond. Lao Tzu, of course, spoke of it. You're describing what almost nobody will ever begin to glimpse. Whether or not you describe it well. But it is as well that you try. It certainly doesn't hurt 🙂

  3. Totally agree. The significance of the link came to me later when I realised how it applied to wisdom and people's ability to recognise and share wisdom. It reminded me of that classic line from the Tao; those who know don't speak, those who speak don't know. Those who are most confident and sure of themselves actually know the least (when it comes to the deeper reality) and those who've had a taste of the underlying mystery of life realise they don't really know a thing.

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